The Lago Mar Story

The Early Years

Renowned as one of the best oceanfront resorts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club has been proudly owned and operated by the Banks family for more than 50 years.

The Lago Mar Story

The story begins in 1959 when Mr. Sidney Banks, a native of Bland County, Virginia, purchased the 110-room Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel. Mr. Banks was a consummate hotelier, having worked during his boyhood in Roanoke, Virginia, hotels as a managing director of the prestigious Cavalier Beach and Cabana Club in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at the age of 31.

Upon relocating to Fort Lauderdale with his wife Florence and son Walter, Mr. Banks set about creating the gracious, family-friendly atmosphere consistently rated as an American Automobile Association (AAA) Fort Lauderdale Four Diamond Resort.

Mr. Banks also played an active role in the Fort Lauderdale community. He was responsible for the donation of Banks Field, the athletic grounds of Fort Lauderdale’s Pine Crest School, and in 1967 the Sales and Marketing Executives of Fort Lauderdale proclaimed him as one of the “Top Eight Businessmen of the Year.”


With a beach resort in Fort Lauderdale that was like a second home to him, it’s only natural that Walter Banks, Lago Mar’s present owner and president, would follow in his father’s footsteps. The Banks family’s commitment to constant improvement resulted in the removal of the property’s outdated buildings throughout the 1980s and 1990s and their replacement with all-new structures. The South Florida luxury oceanfront resort you see today offers 204 rooms (164 suites and 40 resort rooms) plus dining, a full-service spa, and meetings and special event space on ten acres of land with 500 feet of beautiful sandy beach – one of the largest private ocean beaches in Broward County.

Named “Hotelier of the Year” in 2003, Walter Banks shares the credit for Lago Mar’s success with his wife Debbie, who is responsible for directing the design and selecting the furnishings of the resort’s rooms and public space, as well as overseeing the Resort Shop and the Soda Shop. Their son Lee Banks and their daughter Debbie Banks, who make up the third generation of Lago Mar, are also personally involved in resort operations.


While Lago Mar is first, last and always a bastion of traditional hospitality, it offers many interpretations of that most endearing quality. It is the quintessential Fort Lauderdale beach resort. It is one of the finest private clubs in Fort Lauderdale. It is a favored destination for family beach vacations in Florida. It is an exceptional Fort Lauderdale meetings resort. Lago Mar is also a renowned location for weddings in Fort Lauderdale.

Lago Mar’s list of awards is both lengthy and enviable. It was the first resort chosen in Broward County to be on the Condé Nast Gold List Edition of the “World’s Best Places to Stay.” The City of Fort Lauderdale has presented Lago Mar with two awards for “Best Architectural Design.” The Fort Lauderdale Garden Club has recognized the resort with an award for its beautiful landscaping and plant life. Lago Mar has been honored with the AAA Four Diamond Award every year since 2001. Recently named one of the top resorts in Fort Lauderdale by U.S. News & World Report, Lago Mar also ranks among the highest-rated resorts in the area on TripAdvisor.